Dr. Stephen Fabian Leaves a Legacy of Cultural Curiosity
There are some teachers who leave an indelible impression on their students. These teachers spark curiosity and push deeper thinking. They don’t simply share information—they impart wisdom. Dr. Stephen Fabian, who retires this year after fifteen years at The Hun School, is one of those teachers.
He came to The Hun School in 2007 after two decades of teaching at the college level. “I was about to start my fifth year as a full-time lecturer in the writing program at Princeton University,” he shared in a recent interview. However, Dr. Fabian wondered what was next for him. After several colleagues suggested he explore the world of independent secondary schools, he discovered an ad for a history teacher at Hun. It was kismet. It meant he had to tell Princeton he wasn’t returning for his fifth year, but it was a move he has never regretted.
That August, he was busy planning four sections of ninth grade World History while coaching three-a-day football practices, but he thrived, and his hard work did not go unnoticed. “A few years in, I was given an award by Student Council. I was honored because it was completely decided by students.”
The recognition didn’t stop there. When longtime department chair Bruce Spengler planned to step down, Dr. Fabian threw his hat in the ring. He has served as chair for the last ten years. Never one to rest on his laurels, the intellectual and thoughtful Dr. Fabian wanted to make meaningful changes. “History to me always spoke to the past,” he says. “Furthermore, the department at that time was pretty centered in American and European courses. I proposed a history and global studies department to encompass a broader global view and to ensure that we covered current issues in the world today.”
If changing a course name seems like nothing more than semantics, you don’t know Dr. Fabian very well. “World history became World Studies to emphasize connections with the real world today.” Real-world relevance is a hallmark of the current Hun School experience, but ten years ago, Dr. Fabian was on the cutting edge.
He also added a variety of classes to the curriculum, from East Asian Studies and Cultural Anthropology to World Religions. He never stopped looking ahead, with the most recent course additions including Women in the Modern World and African-American History Since Reconstruction. “I tried to inject a stronger emphasis on really looking outwards and bringing those diverse perspectives and experiences into what we study and learn about here at The Hun School.”
His innovative and inclusive spirit extended far beyond the classroom as well. He founded the martial arts program at Hun. “It started as a club but over time became a (non-competitive) fall sport,” he shares.
Passionate about opening students’ eyes to other people’s experiences, Dr. Fabian threw himself into diversity, equity, and inclusion work many years ago. A consummate educator, Dr. Fabian is perhaps best known by students and faculty alike as a bridge-builder. “The strength of Steve's influence comes from within—his sterling personal qualities, including honesty, intelligence, empathy, fairness, and broad-mindedness,” shares Jon Brougham, head of school. “He ably unites people around ideas, builds optimism, and resolves disagreements with respect.”
It’s one of the many reasons the annual Diversity Award has been renamed the Steve Fabian Award for Diversity. It’s especially meaningful to him. “One of the strongest honors I will ever take away was when Otis Douce (Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) bestowed the Diversity Award in my name. That was stupefying.”
The ever-curious Dr. Fabian is now looking forward to a new phase of life—retirement—but don’t expect to run into him on any local golf courses. Instead, he and his wife have one-way tickets to Lisbon, Portugal, leaving in late July. He will always look back with fondness on his time at Hun. “I really have found this to be an exceptionally gratifying and fulfilling place to be. How many people go through life getting to do what they love? I could not have asked for anything more.”